On This Day – November 21st 1908.
The first of Shackleton’s ponies, is killed.
On November 3rd 1908, Ernest Shackleton, Eric Marshall, Jameson Adams and Frank Wild, left Hut Point. Their destination, as Shackleton had put it, was “the last spot in the world that counts as worth striving for” – the South Pole.
It was not Shackleton’s first attempt at reaching the pole, as he had joined Robert Falcon Scott and Edward Wilson, on the Discovery Expedition’s southern journey in 1902. The aim of that endeavour was “to get as far south in a straight line on the Barrier ice as we can, reach the Pole if possible, or find some new land.” Hardly a battle cry of inspiration, or intention. In truth the venture was a pioneering journey, deeper into the unexplored realms of Antarctica, than anyone had ever dared before.
Scott and the two men were supported by teams of sled dogs, which over the course of their travels struggled with the extreme conditions, and did not perform as expected, or indeed hoped. Continue Reading →
Joins HMS Essex under Captain Scott.
On January 29th 1908, Tom Crean joined the HMS Essex, which was under the command of Captain Robert Falcon Scott.
Having returned with Scott from the Discovery’s Antarctic expedition in 1904, Crean had reverted back to normal Navy duties, and served at Portsmouth’s torpedo school.
In September of 1906 Scott invited Crean to join him on HMS Victorious, and the Irishman duly accepted the offer. Victorious would be the first of four different ships, after the Discovery Expedition, that the Polar veterans would serve on together, before departing for Antarctica again in 1910, aboard the Terra Nova.
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The Nimrod departs for Antarctica
On the first of January 1908, the Nimrod under the command of Ernest Shackleton set sail from the port of Lyttelton, New Zealand. In an effort to save fuel Shackleton had arranged to have the Nimrod towed until they reached the waters of the Antarctic circle. Despite having scientific and geographical objectives, the main aim of the venture was that of being first to reach the South Pole.
Given that Shackleton had always considered his physical demise on the return march of Scott’s ‘Furthest South’ record on the Discovery expedition, as a source of personal embarrasment, the Nimrod campaign was always going to be his opportunity to set the record straight.
Frictions had arisen prior to the Nimrod’s departure from England on 11 August 1907, between Shackleton and Scott, over Shackleton’s intention to use Scott’s former base, which had been established on the Discovery expedition, at McMurdo Sound.
Eventually Shackleton would alleviate the argument by promising not to infringe upon territories, that his former Commander Scott, conceitedly claimed were his exclusive dominion. Scott stated that “anyone who has had to do with exploration will regard this region primarily as mine”, and he demanded an exclusion zone which started at 170 º W and, everything to the west of that line, including Ross Island, McMurdo Sound, and Victoria Land, would be Scott’s. Continue Reading →